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Charleston Estate Planning & Asset Protection Blog

Monday, June 3, 2019

Preparing for Incapacity

What Is a Healthcare Power of Attorney and Why Do I Need One?

Accidents and illnesses can strike even the healthiest among us.  While none of us wish to dwell on the possibility that we could become incapacitated, failing to prepare for this change could leave you vulnerable.  In the event you become incapacitated, you will be deemed unable to manage your finances and make medical decisions. By

planning for incapacity, you can protect yourself and prepare your loved ones no matter what the future holds.

Incapacity Defined 

Incapacity can be best defined as the inability, due to a physical or mental condition, to make decisions for yourself.  There are many medical conditions that could lead to incapacity, including suffering from a stroke, dementia, Alzheimer’s disease, or being in a coma.  Accidents can also lead to injuries so severe that you cannot communicate or rationally make decisions. If questions arise as to your capacity, a court may consider the issue and determine after hearing evidence whether you are incapacitated. 

Power to Make Decisions if You Are Incapacitated

When you are declared incapacitated, you will no longer have the legal ability to manage your own finances or make decisions about your healthcare.  Someone else must be appointed to make these decisions for you. If you did not develop a plan in advance for incapacity, then the court may be forced to name someone for you. 

Instead of leaving decision making to chance, you can take action now to develop a series of advanced directives which will determine who takes control over your decisions if you are incapacitated.  Important advanced directives include:

  1. Healthcare Power of Attorney:  Your healthcare power of attorney will appoint an agent, typically a trusted family member, who will make healthcare decisions on your behalf.  A healthcare power of attorney only takes effect if you are unable to make decisions for yourself.
  2. Living Will:  A living will allows you to state your wishes for end of life medical care in case you are unable to express these desires.  It will include preferences for life support, resuscitation, ongoing life care, and more
  3. General Durable Power of Attorney:  With a power of attorney, you will name a trusted individual who will have power to make financial decisions on your behalf if you are incapacitated. Your nominated individual can ensure your bills are paid and assets properly managed. 

Contact an estate planning lawyer today to get started making a plan for your future and your family.


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Wiles Law Firm, LLC helps clients with their estate planning needs in Charleston, South Carolina and the surrounding areas such as West Ashley, Summerville, North Charleston, Mount Pleasant, and John's Island.

Information on this website is not legal advice. Further, viewing of the enclosed information does not create an attorney-client relationship with Wiles Law Firm, LLC. Matters will be handled by attorneys who primarily practice out of our office in Charleston County located at 852 Lowcountry Blvd., Ste. 101, Mt. Pleasant, SC 29464. M. Emerson Wiles, III is the attorney responsible for this advertisement.

Any result Wiles Law Firm, LLC may achieve on behalf of one client in one particular matter does not necessarily indicate similar results can be obtained for other clients. Please contact a South Carolina estate planning attorney or one of our attorneys with Wiles Law Firm, LLC for a consultation regarding your unique estate plan.



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